If you attend community events on Lanai, you may notice a group of students guiding elders, cleaning up, or helping with other activities behind the scenes. These dedicated helpers are part of the Lanai Leo club, the student chapter of the Lions club, an international community service organization working to improve health and well-being of communities while supporting those in need through humanitarian services and grants.
High school students on Lanai have the opportunity each year to join the island’s Leo club, and be part of an organization made up of young leaders working to make Lanai a better place. The Leo club gives students a chance to gain valuable leadership and life skills through various diverse events and projects. Students also get the opportunity to meet others in the community who share the club’s values of leadership, experience, and opportunity.
Young leaders making a difference while gaining new skills
Lanai Leos is currently led by an outstanding group of active, young women with Keala Montgomery, an LHES junior, serving as the club’s president. Montgomery keeps a busy schedule, serving as student council president and as a student-athlete on the basketball, volleyball, and softball teams, but says that the Leo club helps round out her people skills.
“Leo club improved my leadership skills – skills that can be used in the future, like owning or creating a business,” said Montgomery, who joined the club her sophomore year. “It’s also a great way to interact with others and make new friends.”
Souina Seiuli is the board’s vice president. Samantha Villa serves as secretary and Jayvie Ballesteros is the club’s treasurer. Each board member joined the club their sophomore year and gradually got more involved with its activities. “I saw the officers stepping up and helping with the community. It was also a good activity for my resume,” explained Villa. “Being in Leo club also improved my communication skills, because I am always reaching out to people.”
Ballesteros explained that her reasons for joining were like Villa’s and that she can see the link between club involvement and her future career. “Leo club has helped me become more social,” said Ballesteros. “It would help if I went into the hotel industry because you come in contact with guests.”
Lending a hand during the pandemic
While COVID-19 and lockdowns put a damper on normal in-person activities, the Leo club remained active, helping the community receive vital services. Club members consistently volunteered with the Lanai Food Pantry and helped stock shelves and distribute goods to those in need.
The Leo club played a significant role during community vaccinations on Lanai. During one of the first major vaccination events, the group of volunteers helped guide foot traffic, and monitored and reported any adverse reactions. The leadership team said that they felt proud serving their community in this way.
“It was also really fun because many of the people we were helping were older folks, so while we would sit with them, we would talk story,” recalled Montgomery.
Look out for Leos
Students gave back during the holiday season, working alongside the Lions Club to distribute handmade scarves and beanies to patients of Lanai Community Hospital. The winter items helped to keep long stay patients comfortable in the cool AC.
Past projects of the Leo club included working alongside the Lions club and other community members to beautify the graveyard by shoveling and raking pine needles. “It was nice to see not only our club but everyone on the island participating,” recalled Seiuli. “This was before COVID, so a lot of people could be there, and it was a nice experience.”
The club also shared aloha beyond Lanai by raising money for the international humanitarian organization, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).
“We didn’t get to do a lot because of quarantine, so there weren’t a lot of things we could do in previous years, so I have to improvise as we go and think of new things,” explained Montgomery. “So, we don’t have a lot planned, but beach cleanup is one of the things I would like us to do.”
To support the Lanai Leo club, get involved as a student member, or to recommend volunteer project opportunities, please get in touch with the club’s advisor, Pua Turqueza. If you are interested in getting more involved in the community through the Leo club’s parent organization, the Lion’s Club, you can also reach out to Turqueza for more information.